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Alternative title

Towards PLGA capped gold nanoparticles

Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Department of Chemistry

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Rider, David A. (Materials scientist)

Second Advisor

Bao, Ying (Materials scientist)

Third Advisor

Emory, Steven R.


This research project aims to create gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) functionalized with PLGA (poly(lactic co-glycolic acid)) polymers for generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) by way of Xray irradiation for use in cancer therapies. The current methods of cancer treatment rely on drugs and/or chemotherapy depending on the type of cancer present; these methods come with varying success rates which are also dependent on how severe the condition has become (the lower the severity, the higher chance of success). The latest method of cancer treatment is proton beam radiation therapy (PBRT) which can be specific in its targeting but not very cost effective; and its efficacy with all types of cancers has yet to be confirmed. Chemotherapies and cancer drugs, while successful, are indiscriminate in distinguishing the healthy cells from the malignant cells which in turn, causes immune deficiencies and toxicity concerns. By using appropriately functionalized AuNPs, they can be sent to the site of the tumor where they can be irradiated with X-rays to generate ROS to destroy cancer cells; to increase the compatibility of the functionalized AuNPs, they co-precipitated with water soluble poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA). By using a photosensitizer 1,3-diphenylisobenzofuran (DPBF) dissolved with the functionalized AuNPs, we can determine the quantum yield of ROS generation via UV/Vis spectrometry. This paper outlines the method used to synthesize a PDLLA (poly(DL-lactic acid)) polymer ligand with a dithiol anchor which was then dissolved with synthesized citrate capped AuNPs to undergo ligand exchange - the extent of ligand exchange will also be explored via various spectroscopic techniques. These products will be characterized through NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), IR (infrared red), MALDI (matrix assisted laser desorption ionization) and SEC (size exclusion chromatography) to determine molecular weight, functional groups and polymer yield and purity. Other methods such as STEM (scanning transmission electron microscopy), DLS (dynamic light scattering), to confirm size, shape of the AuNPs and stability of the polymer on the surface of the AuNPs.




Poly(lactic acid), Poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), gold nanoparticles, reactive oxygen species (ROS), tumor irradiation


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Cancer--Treatment; Nanoparticles; Polymers; Active oxygen




Academic theses




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